Take a crowd, add a Grrrowl, and what have you got? A Grrrowd.
Think of it as a Kickstarter or Indiegogo for justice. Citizens band together to fund not just good causes, but good cases: legal action that can bring down polluting giants, rewrite bad laws, and defend people and planet. Cases where people are too poor to afford legal action, or the victims are wildlife, nature, or future generations: the kind of clients that can’t normally afford legal representation.
It’s a brand new form of activism, and one Greenpeace is proud to be a part of along with Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth Europe, and the Environmental Defender Law Centre.
The first Grrrowds include:
A case to block the Ibutho coal company’s application for mining rights in the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa, home to the greatest concentration of rhinoceros in the world and part of the last 1% of true wilderness left in South Africa.
A case from a coffee farmer in Uganda who has been thrown off his land to make way for a corporate-owned, government-supported, and UN-funded palm oil plantation in the highly biodiverse Kalangala islands in Lake Victoria.
A case to stop manufacturers of Genetically Modified Corn from invading the country where corn was born, and where 8,000 years of cultivation have led to thousands of varieties. Big companies like Monsanto want all those farmers to grow one variety: the one they own, and are fiercely lobbying their way into Mexico to grow genetically modified corn at a commercial level. A broad coalition of Mexican citizens, farmers and scientists have successfully created a court order blocking genetically modified corn for now, but it’s been pummelled by 86 appeals and other legal action from the agro-biz giants. Mexican citizens and farmers needing help for this case have turned to Grrrowd.
You can help any one of these efforts by donating, by sharing and amplifying these efforts on your social media channels, or by coming up with your own ways to spread the word or raise money for these causes: Grrrowd is founded in the belief that the special interests that drive environmental destruction and human injustice can be defeated by the power of the crowd. Every one of us is that power, every one of us can find the courage and the creativity to stand up for a better world.
Bill Moyers said the answer to organised money is organised people. But crowdfunding and the rise of an interconnected world means organised people can also start organising money. What if civil society could stand up to the amassed legal resources of global megacorporations and governments? What if we, as citizens, could mount the kind of legal action that changes law where the planet is the plaintiff? That challenges the laws that money writes, the laws that are created by lobbyists for polluting companies, laws created by campaign contributions rather than moral imperatives and concern for the common good?
Those are the questions Grrrowd seeks to answer: with a mighty growl from the crowd.
Brian Fitzgerald is Head of Digital Networking & Mobilisation at Greenpeace International.
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